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Chatora

100 Kew Road, London, TW9 2PQ, United Kingdom

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This upmarket Indian restaurant opened in Richmond in December 2019. There are four separate dining areas on different tiers of the building. The head chef is Sunil de Souza, who was sous chef at Chor Bizarre for seven years before working at Trishna for five years, followed by a stint at Kutir. The menu is more ambitious than most local places, with dishes such as venison biryani and squash and edamame samosa appearing.

Popadoms began the meal with a trio of accompaniments. Mango and pineapple chutney, mint chutney and yoghurt with curry leaves were all very good, and a change from the norm. Aloo papdi chaat involved tamarind and mint chutneys and honey and yoghurt mousse as well as the usual potatoes and chickpeas. This was very nicely balanced, the chickpeas tender (14/20). Chicken tikka was exceptionally good: three large pieces of chicken that had been marinated in spices and then cooked in the tandoor. The meat was beautifully cooked and the spices really rang out (15/20).

Fish curry used coley, which is quite a bland fish, though the sauce was quite spicy if a little one-dimensional in terms of its spicing – chilli hot rather than a subtle blend of spices. This was still an enjoyable dish though (13/20). Makhani dhal was the classic dark, slightly smoky dish that is slow cooked for around twenty hours. The lentils had very good texture and the flavour was excellent (14/20). A potato “zakia” (me neither) had pieces of potato cooked with spices, the potato having retained its texture well (14/20).

Venison biryani came sealed in a pastry case that was then cut open at the table. The rice was aromatic and carefully cooked but the venison was rather overcooked. I gather that they started to cook the venison longer recently after feedback from some customers, but presumably customers who don’t have a clue about how venison should be cooked. No one wants to eat grey deer (12/20).

To finish we tried two kulfis. One was pistachio and the other, which we slightly preferred, was ginger and honey. These were made from in the kitchen (a lot of kulfi in Indian restaurants is bought in) and had just slightly denser texture than ideal, but good flavour (13/20). Service was very attentive and friendly. The bill came to a bit over £63 each with beers and cocktails, and it turns out that we overordered. You could easily spend less than this, maybe £45 a head, and still have enough food. I was impressed by Chatora, which offers an interesting menu and very capable cooking, along with friendly staff and a pleasant environment to eat.

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